Filter by

Banana

Overview

banana
Crop Banana Musa Center of origin: SAS, SEA

Banana is much more than the standard yellow supermarket fruit known to European and North American consumers. In fact, that variety represents only a minor proportion of global production.

Bananas and plantains are grown in more than 130 countries across the tropics, and about 90% are produced on small farms and consumed locally. They are particularly important in East Africa where they constitute the main staple food for about 50% of the population. In this part of the world the annual consumption can exceed 400 kg per person. In terms of gross value of production, bananas and plantains are the developing world’s fourth most important crop after rice, wheat and maize.

The fruits are highly nutritious, containing large amounts of carbohydrates and minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium as well as vitamins A and C.

Since most cultivated bananas and plantains have sterile seeds, and therefore need to be propagated vegetatively (i.e. from cuttings), they cannot be conserved in normal seed banks. Away from farmers’ fields there are three main ways to conserve bananas: in field genebanks, in vitro, and cryopreservation. The most common method is field genebanks (collections of banana trees), and large and important collections of living plants are found in the Pacific islands, mainland South Asia and Eastern Africa. Disease is a major problem with vegetatively propagated crops, which are often genetically uniform, and field genebanks are as vulnerable as farmers’ fields to the spread of disease. A more secure alternative is in vitro conservation – collections of plantlets, grown on a nutrient medium in sterile glass or plastic containers. INIBAP, the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain, maintains the largest in vitro collection in the world – the Musa Germplasm Collection at KULeuven in Belgium. Cryopreservation is the storage of plant material in liquid nitrogen (-196°C). Cryopreservation freezes metabolic processes and cell division and therefore allows long-term storage in disease-free conditions. The cryopreservation of all banana accessions within the international collection is nearing completion.

A disturbing scenario is unfolding in East African banana cultivation. In the past, the banana was a hardy crop with a long plantation life and stable yields year round. However with the arrival of the Black Sigatoka fungus, banana production in eastern Africa has fallen by over 40%. This is dramatic in countries were banana is the main source of year-round food security. The situation has started to improve as new disease resistant varieties have been developed. However, these new varieties taste differently from those traditionally grown, which has therefore slowed their acceptant by local farmers.

In other places in the world the supermarket banana of choice, the “Cavendish” cultivar, which dominates the multi-billion dollar banana export industry, is also at risk. “Cavendish” is an extremely popular variety in Europe and the Americas, but its genetic uniformity makes it vulnerable to disease. This will eventually require breeders to find resistance and produce a new variety equally palatable to western consumers.

Conserving forever in genebanks

Filter by genebanks

Bioversity

Number of varieties available to the public
61.6% 897
Data available in genesys
6.9% 101
Cryobanked
55.1% 801

IITA

Number of varieties available to the public
65.6% 162
Data available in genesys
0% 0

Breakdown of genebanks conserving Banana

  • Bioversity 1,455 / 85.5%
  • IITA 247 / 14.5%

The Crop Trust has supported 17 projects for Banana

  1. Belgium: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven) hosts the international collection of banana managed by Bioversity International. Bioversity receives an in-perpetuity grant from the Crop Trust for the long-term conservation of the global banana collection it holds on behalf of the international community.
  2. Belgium: With support from the Crop Trust, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven) completed the cryopreservation of the international collection managed by Bioversity International.
  3. Burundi: The Crop Trust supported the Institut de recherches agronomiques et zootechnique (IRAZ) to regenerate and characterize 40 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  4. Cameroon: The Crop Trust supported the Centre Africain de recherche sur bananiers et plantains (CARBAP) to regenerate 100 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 41 accessions are safety duplicated at Bioversity International.
  5. India: The National Research Center for Banana (NRCB) that worked in collaboration with ProMusa and Bioversity International received support from the Crop Trust to evaluate 18 banana accessions for drought tolerance with the aim of identifying banana varieties with tolerant genes for direct use by farmers in water deficit zones of banana cultivation and to develop new varieties with wider adaptation.
  6. India: The Crop Trust supported the National Research Center for Banana (NRCB) to regenerate and characterize 200 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 60 accessions are safety duplicated in Bioversity international.
  7. Indonesia: The Crop Trust supported the Indonesian Tropical Fruit Research Institute (ITFRI) to regenerate and characterize 270 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 36 accessions are safety duplicated in Bioversity international
  8. Belgium: Bioversity International receives an in perpetuity grant from the Crop Trust for the long term conservation of the global collection of banana held at KULeuven, Belgium on behalf of the international community.
  9. Myanmar: The Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) received funding from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 25 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 15 accessions are safety duplicated in Bioversity international.
  10. Papua New Guinea: The National Agricultural Research Institute received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 217 accessions of banana with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  11. Philippines: The National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory (NPGRL) of the University of the Philippines Los Banos received an emergency grant from the Crop Trust for the rescue of its national germplasm collections, following the damage caused by the typhoon Milenyo in September 2006.
  12. Philippines: The UPLB Foundation Inc. through the Institute of Plant Breeding-Crop Science Cluster at the University of Philippines, Los Banos evaluated 44 accessions of wild and edible Musa balbisiana for drought tolerance and the impact of drought on the activation of infectious endogenous banana streak virus with the aim of identifying germplasm needed in the development of banana hybrid cultivars adapted to climate change challenges such as drought and making it available to breeders.
  13. Philippines: The Crop Trust supported the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to regenerate and characterize 214 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing the use of the crop.
  14. Philippines: The Crop Trust supported the University of Los Banos to regenerate and characterize 157 accessions of banana with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing the use of the crop. 30 accessions are safety duplicated at Bioversity international.
  15. Philippines: The Crop Trust supported Bioversity International that worked in collaboration with Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences of China to evaluate East African highland banana and plantain cultivars held by Bioversity international for resistance to Fusarium oxysporum with the aim of identifying new sources of resistance to the pathogen and making the material available to breeders for variety development in the Africa
  16. Uganda: The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 438 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 11 accessions are safety duplicated in Bioversity international.
  17. Vietnam: The Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute (FAVRI) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 122 banana accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 39 are safety duplicated in Bioversity international.